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    Dota 2 – Necrophos – A Good Fit For The Meta

    Every time we release our pub tier lists, there are heroes that repeatedly place amongst the top dogs of the pubs. Heroes, with incredibly consistently high winrates not only across multiple brackets, but also patches.

    For the longest time, Necrophos has had one of the highest winrates in the Very High Skill bracket, but like a few other heroes in this category, he was never truly popular on a competitive level.

    There have however been cases and scenarios where he was picked and truly excelled, as a few players have seen the potential in him and feel comfortable playing him. But all the potential aside, there are valid reasons for why the hero is not picked.

    Necrophos’ Issues

    Necrophos as a hero has always been in an uncomfortable spot. The hero may need the farm of a carry, but doesn’t have the same impact as other carries with the same amount of farm. Necrophos’ damage output doesn’t come through physical damage and his strongest weapon, his ultimate, is also reliant on the rest of his team to provide damage.

    The itemization for Necrophos is also not something everybody seems to be able to agree on. Many pubs still opt, though possibly influenced by the recommended items, for a Mekansm, something you don’t often see in pro Necrophos performances. It’s not that pros never build Mek on the hero, it’s just that the item is not always necessary from a tactical standpoint and has the potential to slow down the hero’s impact–more on that later.

    Necrophos’ impact is often highly dependant on a good, successful ultimate, though it does provide a lot of damage regardless of whether or not it is successful, while still being a BKB piercing disable. And his item decisions increase the focus on his ultimate, with Aghanim’s Scepter and Refresher Orb being two of the more popular items for the hero–at least in pro games.

    Cloud 9’s Io-Necrophos dual lane

    Roughly 2 years ago, when Cloud 9 with the likes of EternalEnvy and pieliedie was around, the team had a go-to combination that would, in most cases, secure them a win. By combining Necrophos with Io, the team had a strong dual lane which they could even use to go aggressive with.

    What made this combination so strong was how durable and sustainable it was and still is. It can contest pulls, farm and secure runes and is difficult to kill. In fact, this combination can even be the aggressor and secure kills themselves, given the situation.

    EternalEnvy’s starting build of purchasing two Ring of Protections makes the strategy all the more viable, as it becomes increasingly more difficult to take down the hero in the early game.

    Cloud 9 and EternalEnvy have shown that the hero does work in the competitive scene, though it has to be for a specific purpose. You can’t draft a normal line-up and substitute Necrophos in for any carry/core, he needs to serve a specific purpose.

    There’s an argument to be made that he is more of a counterpick; rather than providing a gameplan or a win condition by himself, he makes sure the opponent doesn’t succeed with their gameplan.

    A good fit for the meta

    So what does Necrophos counter? He can counter tanky cores, he can punish single core line-ups and can counter aggression as well.

    The current meta sees a variety of tanky cores picked and played, most notably Lifestealer, Terrorblade but also Timbersaw. Timbersaw’s competitive success might be the key to see more and more Necrophos pickups, as the hero excels against Timbersaw. Yes, Necrophos is generally good against all tanky cores, but there are factors that make it difficult to play against the likes of a Lifestealer or Terrorblade. Lifestealer has built-in magic immunity and works just as well against Necrophos, as he enjoys chewing through tanky heroes himself. Necrophos’ nuke doesn’t scale well enough to deal with the TB illusions properly and there’s always the risk of using the ultimate on a fake Terrorblade.

    Timbersaw though is a hero that needs to be focused down with magic burst and if he doesn’t get killed, he’ll regenerate quickly. In addition, the longer death timer counters the often picked up Bloodstone and its short death timers.

    The meta right now also doesn’t require a single core, which could be considered bad, because there is no go to target for Necro’s ultimate. However, it enables teams to even pick Necro in the first place. Giving him safelane farm does not mean shooting yourself in the foot anymore. You can have a farmer in the midlane and thanks to Iron Talon even your fourth position can transition into a farming core.

    Escape Gaming bringing Necro back

    Recent European TI6 Wildcard contestant Escape Gaming has brought Necrophos to the qualifiers for TI6. They picked him 3 times, every time responding to a Timbersaw pick of their opponents. In addition, they would pick two supports to compliment the sustain of Necrophos, namely Io and Dazzle.

    Era’s itembuild also greatly differs from Envy’s, as he purchases Veil of Discord and a Dagon–a focus on the magic burst damage against the likes of Timbersaw.

    Together with the two defensive supports, Necrophos provides a lot of sustain for his team and allows the other cores to be more effective. A playstyle and strategy that suits Escape Gaming, who don’t always have their primary core in the safelaner. Other teams have had similar farm distributions, Liquid’s Matumbaman has a number of performances on Necrophos as well. Liquid have built similar line-ups around the Necrophos, though their emphasis has often been more on the pushing aspect.

    As the meta continues to allow multiple cores to be viable, especially in a teamfighting setting, Necrophos could very well gain in popularity. While Glimmer Cape is a very effective counter against the hero, it at least forces out economy from the opponent to be dedicated to one hero.

    Necrophos may not be the bane of your upcoming pub matches, but it may be the pick for you if you wish to try something different that is very much viable right now.

    Headline Image by motenai

    As seen on Dotabuff

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